December 20, 2006

Sorry, Virginia, You Were Lied To

Here is the ASLaN Commentary for 2006. Much like a White House "Holiday Card," though most of us much prefer to say CHRISTMAS, like John Kennedy did when he was President.
Sorry, Virginia, but you were lied to.

Worse than that, the counterfeit "Claus" that you and millions more were
sold on in the nineteenth century is now more objectionable then when you
were a little girl.

Back then Santa had the same spiritual flaws that his many "incarnations"
still have, but he hadn't been converted into the idolatrous and
secularized patron saint of the Self that he often is today.

Sure, the hucksters of your day prostituted the good myth Santa for
personal greed, but he still retained some humility. Now his favorite
color is certainly cash-green, and he doesn't appreciate alternative
worship on Christmas morning maligning his false profits.

Shockingly, his iconic image is now abused by adverts who want others to
discover the secrets in Victoria's underwear. Even dolls at FAO Schwartz
in New York wear leather straps, garter belts and little else. What, is
Santa now a ho?

He was on a binge when you asked him for gifts, but currently the obese
hedonist is given over to such avarice and gluttony that his co-creator,
Henry Livingston, Jr., would be shocked. (Alas, your generation also
thought that Clement Moore wrote "Twas the Night," but he actually
plagiarized it.) Indeed, if Livingston could have seen the ghost of
Christmas future I think he might have burnt the catchy poem before it
helped to fuel the Santa cult.

True, your era's version of our post-modern perversion was still
associated with the longing for good things like "faith, fancy, poetry,
love, [and] romance," but you were lied to nonetheless.

Yet if you asked me today, Virginia, I would still answer "Yes, there is a
Santa Claus, and his name is Saint Nicholas, from Myra."

Actually, the real Virginia O'Hanlon died in 1971, leaving behind 7
grandchildren. I wonder how many of their grandchildren know that the real
St. Nicholas lives on?

That man was a beloved bishop who was born around 280 AD, in what is now
Turkey, and his love for Jesus Christ and his concern for the poor,
especially children, earned him a sacred place in world history.

The Dutch brought him to New Amsterdam in their wooden shoes as
"Sinterklass," where capitalism and the literary skills of Washington
Irving saved him from near extinction after America's first war on
Christmas. That cultural struggle saw Massachusetts's Puritans trying to
outlaw celebrations on December 25,th and in 12 of the 13 colonies any
veneration of holy Nicholas was a serious Protestant sin.

Numerous websites and books have chronicled Nicholas' long, strange trip
in the new world, and how he was eventually kidnapped to the North Pole by
Madison Avenue. There is a growing, international movement of people,
however, who are learning to just say "No" to the Santa drug.

The latest of these groups is the Czechoslovakian,, started
this year by advertising copywriters who are fighting back against the
"marketing heretics for another crucifixion of Baby Jesus and the
importation of Santa."

"I protest if someone forces his imported implant in a red suit on me
while I'm at my Christmas Eve supper table," says one of the group's
founders, Petr Voborsky.

Regrettably, the modern pagan with supernatural powers was created right
here in the red, white and blue, so resisting him will be much harder, as
he holds a huge and well-guarded chunk of the Christmas market in the
imaginations of many.

The recovery of a true Turkish Christmas doesn't mean doing away with toy
drives or trees, or even eggnog and mistletoe. It also doesn't require
that parents stop reading great stories or fairytales to young children.

But even beloved Aslan's creator, C. S. Lewis, who understood the power of
myth to convey truth, called "Exmas" a "commercial racket," during which
gift-giving guilt trips "were forced upon us by the shopkeepers."

Hmmm...I don't remember those Christmas essays being promoted during the
marketing blitz for Narnia knick-knacks last Advent season?

So, dear Virginia's out there, it is time to ditch "The Claus," and to
follow St. Nick-to the Incarnation, where the Gift of salvation is still
given to man.

Do not seek him at Santa's usurping throne at the mall, in a worshipful
Hollywood account that ascribes glory to Santa, or in the magical but
temporary thrill of a gift under a tree.

Do seek him in the manger of your heart and in a house of worship that
honors the Messiah whom Nicholas adored. There you will find, of course,
sinners, but also bread and wine, gifts and givers, and songs of Christmas
joy: toys around the Tree of Life that will last for eternity.

This counsel should pass muster with the Anti-Christmas Liberties Union,
for it concurs with the Constitution, where the birth and Divinity of
Jesus is affirmed in the official words "The Seventeenth Day of September
in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven."

So friends, have a MARY Christmas, and a very St. Nicholas New Year!

Walter Skold is a librarian and poet from Freeport, Maine and the founder of
the International ASLaN Society.

No comments: